“Tiger King” star Bhagavan Antle — better known on the show as “Doc Antle” — must paw over thousands of dollars and stay away from exotic animals after he was sentenced Tuesday for illegally purchasing endangered lion cubs in Virginia.
Antle was convicted by a jury in June of two counts of wildlife trafficking and two counts of conspiring to traffic wildlife after buying the animals, which he planned to display outside of his South Carolina business, according to Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.
A Frederick County judge on Tuesday sentenced Antle to two years in prison with time suspended for each charge, to run concurrently. He is required to pay the maximum fee of $2,500 per conviction, totaling a $10,000 fine.
Additionally, Antle is not allowed to work, own, possess, broker, buy, sell, trade, transfer, barter or donate any exotic animals for five years in Virginia, Miyares said.
“Today concludes a multi-year investigation and prosecution by my office. In Virginia, we uphold the rule of law without exception, whether dealing with violent repeat offenders, big pharma, fraudsters and scammers, or wildlife traffickers,” the DA said in a statement.
“This case sends a clear message that bad actors will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth.”
Antle was prominently featured in the 2020 Netflix phenomenon “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” which followed big cat breeders and private zoos in the US.
The series dove into the life and times of bizarre Oklahoma zoo operator Joe Exotic, who was also targeted for animal mistreatment and was convicted in a plot to kill rival zookeeper Carole Baskin.
Antle has a history of violations going as far back as 1989 when he was fined by the US Department of Agriculture for abandoning deer and peacocks at his zoo in Virginia.
He subsequently has racked up more than 35 USDA violations for mistreating animals.
In June 2022, Antle was charged with laundering more than half a million dollars, which federal prosecutors said were proceeds of an operation to smuggle illegal immigrants across the Mexican border into the United States.
He faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the money laundering charges.